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Mounted patrol officers return to Riverside

November 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The Riverside Police Department is about to put 15 new members to work, all of the four-legged variety. The city is getting its mounted patrol back. And this "police posse" won't cost taxpayers a dime.

Michelle Griffitts is getting ready for her first patrol assignment with the Riverside Police Dept. She's a volunteer, so she won't be carrying a gun. Instead, she'll be wearing a set of spurs. She's one of the first members of the department's new mounted patrol.

"Just us being out there, being visible, eyes and ears, a positive contact, I think we can really be an asset," said Griffitts.

This isn't the first time there's been a mounted unit in Riverside; 25 years ago there was a similar squad. But the mounted patrol was disbanded in 2003, partly because it was so expensive.

So how can Riverside afford the program during these tough times? Chief Sergio Diaz says that's the good part.

"There's no taxpayer money involved in any of this," said Diaz. "This is money that we've taken from drug dealers, so no taxpayer money is being used to support this program."

Because a mounted patrol is very expensive, there will only be two sworn officers on horseback. The majority of the mounted patrol will be made up of volunteers.

"We donate our time, and we actually enjoy donating our time. It's a pleasure," said Diane Mooney.

Especially for the kids. But parents and grandparents are also excited to see the "Mounties" on patrol in Fairmount Park.

Their first official assignment will in one week, at the Galleria At Tyler: Call time is 5 a.m. on "Black Friday."


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